Tips To Lose Weight
By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist
Being “Overweight” is a huge problem in our society. Obesity is arguably the greatest risk factor for many illnesses and diseases in our world. As a physical therapist, I frequently have to discuss the importance of weight loss with my patients. But losing weight is not easy. Many of us could use some practical and reasonable tips to lose weight.
What Happens When You are Overweight?
Carrying around excessive body weight is stressful on the body. Over time, the extra weight can lead to early wear and tear on the knees, hips, and back. Excessive body weight can also change the direction of the force on the joints which can cause abnormal wear on articular cartilage. This can lead to arthritis and well as early degeneration of the discs and joints in the spine.
Excessive body weight can also lead to fatigue. Carrying around more weight causes more stress on the cardiovascular system. The heart must work harder to supply oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues. This can limit endurance with daily activity.
There are numerous other diseases that are associated with obesity. These include:
- Type II Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Vascular Disease
- Heart Attack
- Respiratory Disease
- Gallbladder Disease
- Mental health issues
Why Is Obesity so Common?
This is a complex question. Our society has gone through major dietary swings and fads throughout history. Some of the factors were determined by the region. Certain societies throughout history had very little plant growth and relied mostly upon meat and fish. Others had rich vegetable and fruit options and ate a mostly plant-based diet. In general, our current society has access to options but obesity has become a huge problem over the past century.
So what changed? One issue has been technology. Technology has great benefits but as we have depended more on technology, we have depended less on physical work. Working at a computer is the norm for most Americans. The sedentary work-life really limits how many calories are burned during the day. Technology has also affected our food. The push for convenient and cheap food options has led to the modification of agriculture and other food sources. Pre-packaged foods are often full of preservatives that affect the way our bodies metabolize the food.
What is a Food Desert?
Access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy meats can be limited for some people. Some communities do not have grocery stores within a reasonable distance. Other issues may be that these healthy food items are not affordable. These areas are often referred to as “food deserts“. Fast-food and convenience store food may be the only affordable and accessible option in food deserts. This has severely influenced the rise in obesity in these areas.
There are many factors that influence whether a person is overweight or obese. Some of these are out of our control, such as:
Things that you CAN control are your activity level and the foods that you eat.
How Do I Lose Weight?
It’s simple, burn more calories than you take in, right? Well… it’s more complicated than that. This may work for some people but many have nearly starved themselves and still struggle to lose weight. Diet and exercise are typically the keys but there are many variations to both and there is not a single formula that applies to all people.
In the 1960s there was a push to cut fat out of our diets and eat a diet richer in carbohydrates such as grains and pasta. This became the American Diet. The food pyramid was based on this dietary plan. But the rate of Type II Diabetes skyrocketed during this period and is still high today. Heart disease and obesity climbed as well. New dietary research is considering the effects of the high carb/low-fat diet.
There have also been many fad diets over the years. The problem with most diets is sustainability. Changing what you eat temporarily may lead to weight loss, but if you go off the diet, the weight will likely return.
The key is a lifestyle change. This is not easy. It takes discipline. It is difficult for one member of a family to eat healthy foods and exercise if they do not have the support of the rest of the family. True lifestyle change requires surrounding yourself with people who will support and encourage you. It also requires keeping tempting foods out of the house and having tasty and nutritious options available. Get your family and friends involved and encourage each other.
Lifestyle change also includes regular exercise. The key to beginning an exercise program is to be reasonable. Don’t start with a 3-mile run if you have not exercised in a while. Start with a walk for 20 to 30 minutes 3x/week. You can increase from there. Any exercise is better than nothing. Find someone to exercise with you and hold each other accountable.
Tips To Lose Weight
Weight loss can be tough, but it is possible. Here are some reasonable tips to help you lose weight.
- Write down everything you eat. It is difficult to make a lifestyle change until you realize what you regularly eat. You may be surprised. Awareness of our food intake can be enlightening.
- Consider a weight-loss App. I am not advocating for a specific app or weight loss program, but entering your food in an app can bring awareness of the calories and nutrients that you are taking in during the day.
- Find an Accountability Partner! I can’t emphasize this enough. Changing your lifestyle is tough and it is even more difficult to do alone. Get support from friends and family and support them as well.
- Don’t Check the Scale every day. Standing on the scales every day can lead to a lot of emotional ups and downs. Weight can vary from day to day based on water intake and retention. This is not a true measure of weight loss. Once a week on the scale at the same time is a better option to check your weight loss progress.
- Be Active. Beginning a regular exercise routine is important but it is also important to live an active lifestyle. Find something active that you enjoy. That may be going on walks, hiking, riding a bike, etc. Running and walking clubs are helpful to keep you motivated and encouraged with an active lifestyle. Once you get used to being active, you’ll probably start to crave the activity.
What if I Still Struggle to Lose Weight?
These weight loss tips can be helpful but some may still struggle to lose weight. There may be hormonal issues or other health problems that affect how you lose weight. If you are still struggling to lose weight, talk to your primary care physician. Your doctor can help to instruct you on the details of your weight loss efforts and address health issues that may influence your weight loss. Seeing your primary care doctor regularly can help to identify potential health issues and keep you on the path to wellness.
If you don’t have a primary care doctor, you should find one. The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute offers Orthopedic Care AND Primary Care. Dr. Michael Yorio is a Board-Certified Internist with JOI and the Team Internal Medicine Doctor for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is an expert in primary care and sports medicine, as well as health and wellness.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Yorio in the office or with telemedicine, call JOI-2000 or click the link below.